Performance brings love, despair to stage

Six riveting scenes feautring romance, humor embody human experience

Drama students Umi Grant (left) and Oz Herrera-Sobal (right) enact a scene from the play “Almost Maine” during a preview performance in the Knox Center on Thursday.

By Keno Greene and Mike Thomas, Staff Writers

A romantic play was presented at the Knox Center Friday night. Drama students portrayed John Cariani’s “Almost Maine,” a play about residents in a small town going through the struggles of falling in and out of love.

Former drama adjunct professor Patricia Laine was originally supposed to direct “Almost Maine,” but left for undisclosed reasons. After her departure, adjunct drama professor Angelina LaBarre took over the directorial duties of the play and salvaged it.

She also had plenty of setbacks while creating the play.

“I trust her that she can get it done (although) she had no prior knowledge of the play,” drama department Chairperson Carlos-Manuel Chavarria said.

“The show was already cast when I took over. I had to do some rearranging in the cast because some people quit for personal reasons and one of my actors got injured.” LaBarre said.

In admittance,  she had no previous knowledge of the play and enjoyed the opportunity to learn new skill sets of her promising casting.

“(Drama major) Umi Grant who was in ‘In the Blood’ last fall, stepped up and took the lead when I was not present,” she said.

The play had a cast of four actors in which had some of the actors playing various roles during the show. The duration of the show was only an hour, LaBarre said.

“Out of the 11 scenes we only selected six,” LaBarre said.

This decision allowed the cast to focus on the art of theater, Chavarria said.

“For me, I am new to the (drama) department. We are making some changes, redefining the program and making it a transferable degree,” Chavarria said.

“Most of the different characters in the play were played by the same actors,” drama major Oz Herrera-Sobal said. “Only thing that ties them together is they live in the same town.”

Students had to be flexible during the numerous changes that immersed during pre-production, LaBarre said.

During the course of the play, the characters find love, lose love and even explore sexual identity with the immersion of homosexuality too.

One sappy scene showcases Herrera-Sobal and Grant drinking beer by a frozen lake.

Grant’s character, Chad, discusses his rejection by a potential date who credits the way he smells as prominent in his rejection.

After sharing the experience with his male friend, Chad finds out that he has feelings for his best friend Randy (Herrera-Sobal).

Following the realization each character literally falls on the stage, repeatedly, in recognition of their romantic emotions for one another.

“We call it the bromance scene. It’s about these men who already have a friendship and don’t know that it’s a relationship too,” Herrera-Sobal said. “The falling for each other was just the cheesy part of it.”